“It’s been a nice long journey for me, and I will treasure it always,” said Kumar Dasgupta, reflecting on the decision to close his Indian restaurant Ambar after nearly 25 years on Ecclesall Road.
The tandoori, one of Sheffield’s most established restaurants, opened in 1993 on the row of shops beyond the junction with Rustlings Road, heading towards Banner Cross, and has built up a solid customer base in the two decades since.
But Kumar has decided to call time on Ambar in order to concentrate on the property business he runs with his wife Aparna.
The restaurant was putting increased demands on his time, he admitted.
“In the past I’ve worked like a devil,” said Kumar. “It was taking up a lot of my time. My motto is, when I own any business, I do it 100 per cent. I like to be there all the time.
“I started my restaurant on a high, and I’ve left my business on a high. I’ve done it for such a long time, and basically think it’s time to pull away and do other things.”
Kumar comes from the tea state of Assam, in the north-east of India. His father ran the Curry Inn on Ecclesall Road, and the Taj Mahal, now Italian Kitchen. Kumar’s first Sheffield restaurant was The Stirrings, on Oakbrook Road, in the 1980s, before Ambar.
“I think I will miss things,” he said.
“You get to know people for so long - some of my customers have been coming from the beginning. It’s a different relationship, they feel so comfortable and relaxed.”
Kumar said he would also miss the ‘busy, vibrant atmosphere’ of Friday and Saturday nights. But he said the nature of Ecclesall Road had changed.
“There’s a flood of restaurants and takeaways now. It’s good to have restaurants but when there’s too many it dilutes the whole thing. It’s good to have a variety of things.”
However, there was a still a ‘passion’ among diners for Indian cuisine.
“I think Asian food - particularly Indian food - is one of the most popular ones now.”
Kumar, who has a grown-up son and a teenage daughter, credits Aparna with giving him the necessary drive to run Ambar for 24 years.
“The main inspiration for our career, business and family is my wife.”